Friday, August 30, 2013

Five Minute Friday - Worship

It's time for the "Five Minute Friday" blogging post. The inspiration comes from Lisa Jo Baker

What you do is set your timer for five minutes and write whatever you want according to the prompt Lisa places on her blog every Friday. Then you go back, link your blog and give support to those who posted before you. And, we connect on Twitter with #FiveMinuteFriday.



I never was one to worry that if I wasn't in church God didn't hear me or love me. I know that God hears my prayers and my cries wherever I am, may it be in the stillness of my room or on a crowded highway.

Growing up, church was something that happened every Sunday. We went to church and Sunday School. I sang in the church choir. I went to church camp. Church was our life. I was baptized at the age of 13 and at the age of 16 I became one with my Lord and Savior through a very moving song we were practicing for choir. 

God loves me. He cares for me. He knows me. Where ever I am. 

Today, I still go to church on Sundays. I still go to Sunday School. And every week I join a women's Bible study group. 

But, those are the most important places I worship. My worship moments are more intimate. 

The first thing in the morning when I awaken and thank God for another beautiful day. The last thing I do as I rest my head on my pillow to fall asleep, I ask God to watch over my friends, family and loved ones. 

Worship. Moment by Moment.


Friday, August 23, 2013

Being Happy with Who You Are


It's elusive, in a mysterious kind of way.

Ask yourself, Are you happy?

What makes you happy? Is it your family? Your career? Your friends? Your pets? All of the above? Something else, entirely?

I thought at one time that to be happy I had to have a great career and work a lot and make lots of money.
Thank God, I don't think like that anymore. I had some serious life lessons that taught me that a great career is not the road to happiness.

My faith is my road to happiness. With faith and trust in God, nothing is impossible. I am a very happy person.

I feel that I live a well balanced life. I don't let stress or other triggers get to me and build up until they spill over into a Bipolar episode. I am diligent about tracking my moods and keeping away from anything that might be a trigger.

I trust in God and follow his Word by reading it every day.

So, how are you going to find happiness in your life? What would you give up so that you could be truly happy?

Do you need to find balance in your life? What could you do to help yourself achieve the right balance in your life?

I "gave up" a stressful career as a Technical Writer and now I write whatever I want. Whenever I want. I've had five novels and two novellas published. I'm currently working on a Bipolar memoir. I set my own schedule. I keep up with several blogs, this one, My Balanced Life and Your Writing Coach.

I have hobbies like doing jigsaw puzzles. They're great for relieving any stress and anxiety.

I have two pets that I adore and give me great pleasure. An American Eskimo dog and Sun Conure parrot.

Best of all, I have the love and support of a wonderful husband who understands and accepts me for who I am.

I am a happy person.

Are you?

Monday, August 19, 2013

Why It's Okay to Watch Re-Runs

 Do you have a favorite TV show or movie that you love to watch over and over? I do. One of my favorite movies to watch is A Perfect Murder with Michael Douglas. It's suspenseful and a spine-tingling good mystery. Even though I know "who did it" and how the movie ends, I don't care. I start watching it and I get wrapped up in the story. It sucks me in and the world melts away. I feel the same way about The Thomas Crown Affair.

One of my favorite TV shows is Friends. I have the entire series on DVD and it doesn't matter that I just finished Season 10, I'll flip back to Season 1 and start all over again.

But is it a good idea for you to be sitting and watching your favorite movie or TV show re-runs? Is it turning your mind to mush? Is it bad for you?

Not hardly. According to research stated in the Why It's Okay to Watch Reruns article, watching your favorite shows restores will power and self-control.

How amazing is that? No more guilt about snuggling in and watching Friends!

From the article: "Self-control is a limited resource," says Jaye L. Derrick, PhD, a researcher and professor at the University at Buffalo who led two studies reported in the journal Social Psychological and Personality Science. Contrary to what many people think, she explains, self-control — be it to resist an afternoon snack or complete a project — is not necessarily an innate trait or disposition. The amount a person has fluctuates from day to day. "So if [people] do something effortful, they have less [willpower] left over to do other effortful things."

Surprisingly, watching new episodes or movies didn't have the same restorative effect. Probably because you're using your mind to try and figure out what is happening and how the story is going to end. With re-runs, you already know, so your mind is relaxed.

By building close relationships with your favorite fictional characters, you're creating a bonding experience that has a will power restoring effect. The comfort level you have with your favorite characters allows you to say or react in ways that you may not with real relationships. 

Have a favorite re-run or movie? Watch it and let the guilt slip away. Remember, this only works for re-runs, not new episodes or movies. So, don't use it as an excuse to become a couch potato.

Do you have a favorite movie or TV show? Let me know in the comments.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Wakernesh & Sephrina - Short Story

I thought I'd share a short story I wrote. Wakernesh & Sephrina. Enjoy. I hope you like it.

Wakernesh stood over the small kettle hanging from the iron rod across the open flame.  Instantly, heat combined with sumptuous odors rushed past his face to escape through the stone chimney above.  He sniffed; his stomach growled in response.

"You old fool.  Get away from that pot!"

Wakernesh shuffled himself around, careful not to trip on the ragged, singed rug in front of the fire.  "Sephrina! Away with you, you old hag."  He waved his hand and flicked his arthritic wrist.  His joints cracked as they attempted to obey their master.

Sephrina, pulling wooden bowls from an nearly empty cupboard, flinched. 

A small spark jumped from the fire and sputtered onto the rug.  It popped and snapped, breaking out into a small flame that threatened to spread across the dusty, twisted rags on the floor. 

Relief passed quickly over Sephrina's rheumy eyes.  "Bah! Old man." She shuffled across the floor and stomped out the small flame.  "Old, good for nothing, lousy broken down . . . "  She mumbled under her breath as she carelessly ladled a portion of hot stew into a misshapen wooden bowl.

Wakernesh carefully lowered himself onto a rickety three-legged stool.  "Watch it old witch," he said with quiet even tones.  "I've warned you before."

"You don't scare me, Wakernesh."  Not anymore, she added to herself.  Sephrina slammed the bowl in front of him.  Spatters of hot stew speckled the front of his torn, threadbare tunic.  "You are no longer the powerful wizard you once were."  She dished more stew into another bowl and sat opposite the old man.  "We have been mortal now for over a hundred years.  We both have suffered because of it."  She ran stiff, bony fingers through her lifeless white hair.  "Just look at me! I can't even conjure a simple beauty illusion."

"Sephrina."  Wakernesh covered her hand with his own liver-spotted, wrinkled one.  "You'll always be beautiful to me."

"Bah! Old man.  What do you know?"  She threw off his hand and turned away.  Hot dry tears wetting her eyes.  "It would take a miracle to make me young again."


Wakernesh stayed awake that night thinking about Sephrina's claim.  She longed to be beautiful again.  A miracle she wanted? A miracle she would get.  He worked through the hours of darkness pouring over dusty tomes and toiling over his mortar and pestle.  As dawn broke, exhausted muscles aching, he was ready.

"Sephrina!"  Wakernesh called with all the excitement he could muster.

"Old man, this better be good."  Sephrina stumbled out of their bed and to their small living space.

"I've done it.  I've created a miracle for us!"

"What are you babbling about, old fool?"  Sephrina peered at him through the early morning light breaking through the small dirty window.  "Have you lost your mind, too?"

"Not at all." Wakernesh carried a small vial to the table and sat down.  "Here, look at this." He pushed the vial toward his wife.

"What is it?" She touched it with a tentative finger, uncertain of its power.

"Our youth, Sephrina! Our youth!"  Wakernesh grabbed her hand with surprising strength.  "Look at me, Sephrina."  He pulled her toward him.  "This is my last spell.  Our last chance at youth.  I've only enough for both of us to regenerate 150 years.  I'm not as strong as I used to be.  That's all I could do.  We'll go back past the 100 years of being mortal and have fifty years as wizards before mortality once more."

Sephrina gasped.

"Think of it, Sephrina.  We can be young again!"

Her eyes held his for a moment then slid greedily to the vial.  "Are you sure it will work?"

"Yes, yes.  Half for you, and half for me."  Wakernesh touched a tender finger to her wrinkled, paper-thin skin along a high cheekbone.  "Are you ready?"

“My darling husband, you’re exhausted.  Why don’t you take a nap and we’ll take the potion after you rest.”

“You might be right.  Maybe just a small nap.”


Sephrina watched her husband shuffle to the small bed in the corner and sigh as he lay down.  She touched the vial.  Did it contain the powers her foolish husband said it did? She listened to his soft snores.

Without a second thought she uncorked the vial and swallowed the contents.  “The old man didn't deserve immortality.  He owed me for living in this squalor for a hundred years.  I will be beautiful forever!”


Wakernesh awoke as the sun settled behind the hills.  He felt a strange emptiness surround him.  Tears sprang to his old eyes.

He found the empty vial on the table.  "Sephrina?"  He whispered.  He searched under the table and behind the vegetable bin.  He crawled on his knees to look under the bed.  He peered behind the pile of wood next to the fireplace.


"Sephrina!"  Overjoyed, the old wizard reached out to pull her toward him.  He pulled his hand back and yelped with pain to find several straight thin red lines crossing the brown patches on his wrinkly hand.

"Now, now, Sephrina."  He gently coaxed her out from behind the pile of wood.  "Come here, little dear."

With her nose in the air, Sephrina left her hiding spot.

"That's a good girl."  Wakernesh lifted Sephrina from her feet and sat her on his lap.  He ran his hands over her thick, silky hair.

Sephrina stared at him with beautiful oval green eyes that seemed to wonder why he wasn't mad at her for taking the whole vial for herself.  She tensed her body, preparing to bolt at the first sign of trouble.

"Oh, Sephrina.  My darling."  Wakernesh fumbled in his pocket and removed another vial of sparkling green liquid.  "If you hadn't been so greedy, we would both be young wizards again."

Sephrina, wide-eyed, stared back, her eyes on the small vial.

Wakernesh plucked the vial’s cork and tipped the liquid toward his mouth.  His eyes twinkled as he met hers.  "Now, we'll just be wizard and wizard's familiar, my darling!"  With a chuckle he swallowed the contents as the kitten in his lap yowled.

Wednesday, August 07, 2013

Separated at Birth - Job and Me

 I've often wondered why so many innocent people must suffer. A day doesn't go by that I hear about one tragedy after another¾church bombings, school shootings. The list goes on. What tears at my heart the most are the same questions being asked over and over by so many people. There are those that try to convince others that God lets people suffer because He is vengeful and has turned His back on His people. "They" say that if God truly loved us, He wouldn’t let such horrible things happen. Why would God let the innocent suffer?

I don't believe that God is "letting" us suffer. I believe that he is acting like a parent by guiding us and showing us the way, but in the end, letting us make our own decisions. It's called Free Will. And God gave it to all of us.

The most famous sufferer in all of biblical times was Job.

Before I studied the book of Job, I only knew that this simple, humble man had a really great life and then, seemingly from nowhere, horrible things started happening to him. What did he ever do to deserve such a life?

Was Job being punished for not loving God enough? Was Job being punished for something his children did? Did God stop loving Job? Was Job being held up as an example for all people?

As a very young child in Sunday school, eager to learn all I could, it was difficult to grasp the concept of our Almighty God as a living breathing entity, and I only had a community-esque view of the basic parent/child relationship. But, I got this message through the cartoon images our Sunday school teacher used.

Job was a child of God.

So, as my Sunday school teacher revealed the rest of the story to me, I learned that Job wasn't really being punished at all, but was being tested to prove his faithfulness to his Father. God wanted to prove how faithful Job really was to Him.

God was showing off.

And, just like most children who don't understand what their parents are doing, Job was confused and didn't understand why God would do this to him. He was a good man. A God fearing man. A normal, everyday person who kept to himself and didn't make waves. And, although he had all that going for him, although he didn't deserve it, he was still handpicked by God to be tested like no man had ever been tested before.

He was tested.

I truly believe Job and I were separated at birth.

Did you ever do math word puzzles as a child? Do you remember one that went something like this? Jane and John are twins. Jane was born in 1970 and John was born in 1969. Explain how this could happen if they were born only six minutes apart. Of course the answer is that Jane was born on January 1, 1970, at three minutes after midnight, and John was born on December 31, 1969 at three minutes before midnight. Easy, right?

So how do I explain that I think Job and I were separated at birth by a few thousand years?

Originally, I only knew that this simple, humble man had a really great life and then, seemingly from nowhere, horrible things started happening to him. What did he ever do to deserve such a life?

Did God stop loving Job? These were the kind of questions we were asked during class.
As I said before, God was showing off.

Actually, God was showing Job off. Like any parent who was proud of their child's accomplishments. Like any parent who wanted to tell anyone who would listen. You know the kind of parent; they especially want to show off if they think it'll impress the other person.

If you are a parent, you understand this concept very well. What parent could pass up a perfect opportunity to show off how proud they were of their child?

And, just like most children who don't understand what their parents are doing, Job was confused and didn't understand why God would do this to him. He was a good man. Even so, God picked Job to be tested.

So where does that leave us in our current time? And, how does this fit in with my thinking Job and I were separated at birth? Well, let me tell you that God must be so proud me. That has to be the reason why my life has gone the way it has. Otherwise, what I learned about Job doesn't matter. And I don't believe that. I believe that God loves me and is proud of me.

I believe that it's absolutely true that bad things happen to good people. I also believe that God never gives you more than He thinks you can handle.

I just never realized I could handle so much in my life at one time.

He sure showed me.

Too bad I wasn't looking when he was showing me. It would have made things so much easier. But, then, this isn't about making things easy, is it?

Was it coincidence that I learned, almost too late, that I should have been focusing on my faith in God to set a path for me to follow?

I don't think so. I think, like Job, I had to experience all that I did to become the person I am now.

But, you'd think that I would have paid more attention to His path, rather than wandering so senselessly and blindly on my own. The signs were all there. Strange how they look so much clearer from behind than when faced with them.

Would I have still marched to the brink of sanity and looked in wonder over the edge and beyond? And, if I hadn't, would I still be the same person I am today? All good questions.

They, (you know who "they" are), say that hindsight is 20/20. I believe that. Would I have done anything differently if I had known the outcome? I don't think so. But, then, would any of these events have even happened if I had the foresight to know the consequences of my actions?

Now, there is a question for the ages. Would I still have willingly endured the pain and suffering? Probably. Wait, no probably about it. The answer is a resounding yes. Even if I had to go through all the pain again.

Pain is one of those emotions that help us focus our attention on God. How many of us have ever cried out, "Oh, God, just make it stop hurting!" I can't remember the number of times I have cried those exact words.

Pain gets our attention real fast. It got Job's attention. And it got mine.


Unfortunately, I have a really high threshold for pain.

Pain makes us look inside ourselves. Most of the time, whether we want to or not. We've been brought up in a world that uses pain as a punishment. As children, we constantly heard, "Don't do that or I'll spank you." As parents, we used the same techniques to invoke obedience in our children. How many times have we said, "I love you so much it hurts." Or, how about this, "It pains me to tell you this, but . . ." We use pain all the time to emphasize our actions.

However, pain can be a useful tool for something else. It doesn't always have to be punitive or corrective. Sometimes, like in Job's case, and in mine, it can be used to instruct.

Learning our lesson the "hard way" is, in my humble opinion, the best way to be taught. I always thought I was a really good student.

So much for what I thought I knew.

The lesson that I needed to learn was that God created human beings with a free will. And, because of that free will, God wasn't going to raise His mighty hand and smote every single person down who did wrong. Not even if I was right there to point every single one of them out to Him.

I couldn’t call upon Him to give the driver who just cut me off on the freeway a flat tire. The same as I couldn’t ask Him to seek out the murderer of the child down the street and make him pay for his evil action.

And, no matter how hard I begged, He wasn't going to strike my ex-husband down dead in his tracks for being a knucklehead and not accepting the fact that I was right.

True justice requires patience. A lot of patience.

Although the wait for justice might seem unbearable, God one day will restore those who have suffered without cause. He promised. Solomon said, "God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil." (Eccl. 12:14)

It wasn't my job to make sure that all the evil of the world was recognized and punished. My heart carried so much resentment and self-pity, that I wasn't able to see the good that I had in my life. I wasn't able to see the good I would have in the future. I just wasn't able to see the good in the real me.

I had always considered myself a conscientious person. Like Job, I felt that I was ethical, feared God, and avoided evil. Somehow, in the back of my mind, I knew that there was a reason I was born and a purpose for my being put here on earth.

Although, for the life of me, I couldn't figure it out. And, nothing used to trouble me more than not being able to figure something out.

I was brought up as a Christian. A good little girl. Painfully shy, overweight, and acne-prone, I was an honor roll student in school and sang in the choir every Sunday. I kept to myself most of the time, avoiding confrontations and existing on the outer edge of life. Sound familiar?

I tried to fade into the background as much as possible. It made my childhood easier. It made my whole life easier. It made it easier to forget about the series of broken marriages with a nearly endless parade of stepmothers, stepfathers, stepsisters and half-sisters, stepbrothers and half-brothers. All of those wonderful events captured in single moments in my mind just like the faded pictures in my photo albums.

My photo albums. Only the happy moments are captured in those pictures. No one ever saw the other side of my life. There is no photo album that you can turn the pages and see the pictures I have in my mind for those times. Those pictures I refuse to bring out to show my friends. My family. Myself. The ones that showed the other side of our supposedly happy, typically dysfunctional home, filled with alcohol abuse, physical and mental abuse, and incest. That was the home I wasn't supposed to talk about. There are no real pictures of those moments. Only the pictures in my mind.

Appalling pictures. Ones that I wish I could destroy as easily as setting a match to a piece of paper. I'd do it if I could. I would put the match to the edge of the picture; watch the flame lick hungrily at the paper. I'd smile when the picture darkened; the edges curled in toward the heat. I'd hold the picture between my fingers for as long as possible, watching the flame devour the moment. Watch the moment go black, like the charred paper, and then flutter away as ashes. To never be remembered again.
The pictures in my mind won't burn.

I keep those pictures locked in a box in the back recesses of my memories. I try not to think about them or remember that they're there. I pile other clutter on top of the box. Pushing and shoving it further and further in the back of my mind, like hiding a box filled with items you just can't throw out in the back of a dark closet. Trying to forget. Trying.

I've done a lot to put physical space and time between those memories and me. But, every where I go, no matter what place I end up in, somehow, when I least expect it, I'll realize that little box has found me. Again.

That little box isn't so little anymore and it's found friends. It's multiplied and grown, to include boxes from other parts of my life. Boxes of memories from failed relationships. Boxes of failed parenting tactics. Boxes of failures.

However, as I've grown in spirit and mind an amazing thing has happened. Other boxes have accumulated that contain good memories. Boxes of accomplishments. A wonderfully, supportive marriage. Good parenting decisions. Outstanding professional achievements. Happy memories with my children and my friends. 

So, now I welcome that little box and all its friends. I don't often look inside, but instead I continue to add other boxes to the collection. In these boxes I've placed all my memories. Some good, some not so good.

But, all of them together make up whom I am. And who I am is the person God wants me to be. At least, I hope so, anyway.

Like Job, I no longer curse the day I was born. I don't demand that God tell me why I must go through what I have and will continue to experience in the future.

Now, I ask Him to be with me as I travel from day to day and provide me with guidance and wisdom to know Him.

I am content in knowing that I don't need an answer for every question right now. I understand that there isn't always going to be a reason that makes sense. Only the knowledge that there are answers and maybe in time, I will discover them. And, if I don't, then I have to trust God enough to understand that He knows.

That is enough for me. I am truly blessed.

And, in return, my promise to God is that I will try to listen more and complain less so that I can hear His gentle prompts and be prepared to let go of what I can't control.

I welcome God's tests because I know that He is proud of me and wants to show others how proud He is of me.

And, like Job did, I too look forward to living a full life, albeit not an easy life, and dying very old. An old woman surrounded by my children and their children and their children.